The road towards COP21: an overview of INDCs from the MENA region

On September 16th Tunisia was the fourth country of the MENA region to submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in view of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21) to be held in Paris this December. Morocco has been the first country of the region to contribute submitting its INDC in June, followed by Jordanian and Algerian documents early this month.

In line with the majority of the contributions received from non-Annex I countries so far, the four MENA economies framed their carbon reduction targets by defining a range between an ‘unconditional’ lower bound, whereby the country commits to operate by its own national means, and a more ambitious ‘conditional’ target. The achievement of this latter is subordinated to the access of external financing and support from the countries’ bilateral and multilateral partners or through new climate finance mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund. Cooperation – both North-South and South-South – is in fact expected to enable transfer and capacity building and foster additional technology development. An important development brought by these reports is that the amount of support needed is expressed for the first time in explicit quantitative terms.

Morocco confirmed to be one of the most ambitious country of the region, establishing a conditional target to reduce its GHG emissions by 32% by 2030 compared to a BAU scenario. The unconditional target is set instead to the lower value of 13% by 2030 and 10% by 2025. An overall investment of USD 45 billion – of which USD 35 billion from external support – is the estimated financial need to meet the most stringent objective.

The economy further set as main objective the provision of 42% of installed electricity production from renewable energies by 2020, within which three main sources– solar, wind and hydraulic energy- will contribute for a share of 14% each. Supportive measures will range from fossil fuel subsidy phase out and to the development of sectoral action plans for the whole range of key areas of intervention: agriculture, water, waste, forests, industry and housing. The country finally committed to reduce its energy consumption by 15% by 2030.

Tunisia’s main target consists in a reduction of its carbon intensity (tCO2eq/GDP) by 41% in 2030 relative to 2010. Domestic financial contribution will total USD 18 billion, representing only around 10% of the total mitigation investment needs. Accordingly, the unconditional target is lowered by the report to 13% of carbon intensity reduction.

The energy sector will alone contribute to 75% of the reductions, but also the industrial processes, agriculture, forestry and waste sectors are included within the framework. In order to meet such challenge, the share of renewable energies in electricity production should scale up from the current 4% to 14% in 2020 and to 30% in 2030. Capacity is estimated to reach 3.8GW by the end of the period, mainly divided between wind power (1.8 GW), solar photovoltaic (1.6 GW) and concentrated solar power (450 MW).

Algeria reports a GHG emissions reduction target ranging from an unconditional 7% to a maximum conditional 22% compared to a BAU scenario and to be achieved between the 2021 and 2030. In contrast with the other reports, no explicit valuation of the external and internal financial needs is reported.

As for the energy sector, the country commits to achieve 27% of electricity production from renewable resources within 2030. To establish its path towards a cleaner economy, the country expects a “wider deployment of both solar and wind energy by 2030, coupled in the medium term by investments in solar thermal, cogeneration, biomass and geothermal power, yet no technology specific target is identified. Other policy actions envisaged include the establishment of a policy framework for efficient lighting and thermal isolation of buildings, and a reduction to 1% of the amount of flared gas. Measures for the waste management considered comprise waste valorisation and composting of organic waste and the reduction and recycling of the methane emitted in landfill sites.

The country further explains how any preliminary contribution to be put in place before 2020 will be considered only after and in conformity with the results of the conference in Paris and taking into account the financial status of the country, underscoring how this is currently undermined by the low price of exported hydrocarbons.

Lowest in the region, the unconditional target reported in Jordan’s INDC submission aims to reduce GHGs emissions of 1.5% by 2030 relative to a BAU scenario, while the conditional target reaches instead 14%. In this case, the pledged international financial contribution is set slightly above USD 5 billion.

The country’s National Vision and Strategy further commits the country to reach an 11% share of renewable energy in the total energy mix in 2025, with an Action Plan on Mitigation to be developed by 2016, but no capacity targets or shares are provided. The main additional regulations within the energy sector will support solar energy for water heating, establish green building codes and rationalize energy consumption. Further priorities are identified in the reduction the carbon intensity of the transport sector and to introduce renewable energy as a source to supply water systems.

As for GHGs coverage, Algeria Morocco and Tunisia include only Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous oxide (N2O), whereas Jordan considers, in addition, Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

All countries also commit to establish comprehensive approaches for Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) in regard to emissions, status of implementation and support received.

Finally, in line with the dispositions of the Lima COP20, great attention is given to the definition of future adaptation measures, particularly related to the scarcity of water resources, which is considered between the major barriers to sustainable development in the MENA region. A great attention in the INDC’s documents of Tunisia and Jordan is in fact given to adaptation measures ranging from groundwater protection, surface water development, demand management and quantity and quality monitoring systems, while Algerian policies mostly focus on resilience of ecosystems and erosion and desertification of soil.

According to the CAIT Climate Data Explorer, with the contributions of these countries, INDCs now cover 59.5% of global emissions.


(Image: Photovoltaic Micro-plants in Morocco. Photo credit: Isofoton on Wikimedia Commons)